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Insecure at Work

Insecure at Work

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Dear Rachel,

I am constantly feeling undervalued and unappreciated at my job. I have a great position with a lot of freedom, which intellectually would seem to suggest that they are happy with me and my work. Yet continuously I feel that I am being marginalized and unnecessary. I work mainly with men who are far from emotional and communicative. But even knowing that, I’m not sure how I can feel confident and do my best when I am always doubting if anyone recognizes my hard work and what I do.

Insecure at Work

LA, CA

Dear Insecure at Work,

You can be sure if they weren’t happy with your work, you would no longer be thereI think your signature is the core of the issue here. It seems like you are projecting your own insecurity onto those around you. Now, it sounds like you certainly aren’t getting any positive reinforcement, support or emotional empathy from those you work with. But at the end of the day, if you are a productive and successful worker, do you really need it from them?

Being that I also work mainly with men, I can relate to you and feel for you, as the differences in approach and communication can be vast. And the more emotionally intuitive you are, the more you will be sensitive and hurt by things that probably are not even on your coworkers’ radar.

Let’s start by looking at this purely intellectually, since you already acknowledge that when you do so, things look much better. You have a job. Presumably a good job. And, I’ll assume, one you enjoy, as you never mention disliking it. In today’s market, there are very few jobs, many unemployed or underemployed workers looking for them, and no one is being kept on payroll out of necessity. To be perfectly blunt, you can be sure if they weren’t happy with your work, you would no longer be there.

That said, there is nothing more frustrating than investing of yourself (and it sounds like you are someone who puts not only your time into your work, but your heart and soul as well) and feeling that no one notices or cares.

I have two suggestions. Either stop caring so much about your work, do your job, do it well, and leave your emotions out of it. Or, if that is not an option, get your emotional feedback from those who do know you, understand you and appreciate what you do.

While in a perfect world our bosses and coworkers would have sensitivity training and communication skills, and would create a supportive, rewarding and encouraging environment, in reality, most people are too overworked and busy to notice or care if someone’s feelings got hurt along the way.

If there are specific incidents that you encounter where you are really being mistreated or something is gravely mishandled, of course you need to bring it to the attention of your superiors. But in your day-to-day work, try to focus on doing a good job, and know that your work ultimately is not for the ones you work with, but for others who do appreciate—whether or not you ever will directly know—what you have done.

Look within and see if perhaps you are not unintentionally creating the very atmosphere that hurts you.Another important point is to look within and see if perhaps you are not unintentionally creating the very atmosphere that hurts you. Are you complimentary of others? Do you thank your coworkers or superiors for their hard work, or acknowledge what they do on a daily basis? Are you focused only on your tasks, or do you act and feel like a real team player?

The Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Chassidic movement, taught that when something bothers us about another, it is quite often that we are staring at our own reflection. We are most sensitive to our own flaws, and we see them most clearly when they manifest in others. It is easy to criticize and find faults in those around us. But the best way to ensure that we are treated with respect is to treat others with respect, as the Torah teaches us, “Love your fellow as yourself.” Treat those with whom you work the way you want to be treated. Not only will the positive atmosphere you create help you feel more comfortable, but you will be a great example for how they should treat you and others in response.

I wish you luck in finding peace with your job, so that you can use your talents to the utmost, without letting these feelings emotionally drain you. I look forward to hearing good news.

Rachel

"Dear Rachel" is a bi-weekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Sara Esther Crispe.

Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the Co-Director of Interinclusion, a non-profit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of TheJewishWoman.org and wrote the popular weekly blog, Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.
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Sanjana January 5, 2017

Insecure at work Thank you! This is exactly what I needed to hear(read). I too work in a predominantly male environment and it is upsetting if good work goes unrecognised - but the key is to consistently do good work (so you are satisfied with what you have done), count your blessings (flexible work hours, work from home options) and keep emotions out of the picture. Reply

Lisa Providence, RI February 10, 2016

Insecure at Work This is one of the reasons why I quit the working world and collect SSDI!

I was always petrified I was going to make a mistake and I NEVER asked for a raise because of it! Reply